Friday, November 17, 2017

'Tis the season to be busy

First, the obligatory family photos of the Alabama branch of the rhymeswithplague clan, the mama in that branch being our daughter. Here she is with her older son (center) and his father, her husband of nearly 25 years:


The occasion was the Chamber Winds concert at the university our grandson attends, in which he is co-principal French Horn player at the ripe old age of 17.

Next, here is our daughter with her younger son one day later. This time the occasion was the annual winter concert in Birmingham of the All-County Bands and Choirs from Elementary, Middle, and High Schools in Jefferson County, Alabama. Our grandson was one of the trumpet players in the High School band. Our daughter, an assistant principal in a middle school, helped accompany the Elementary Choir on her flute.


The preliminary obligatories having been completed, let us now move on to other subjects.

1. Today we received our first Christmas card of the season. It came all the way from the home of Michelle, Ken, and Rosie-Roo (their dog) in merrie olde England, where Michele (also known as our blogging friend All Consuming) created it herself. In other words, it is a treasure. Here's the outside:


...and here's the inside:


Michelle created lots of other Christmas cards too, and you can see them by clicking right here. While you're doing that, I shall be trying to figure out (a) why Michelle would send me a Rorschach test for Christmas and (b) why it contains not only some very cute birds but also some bird droppings, Santa Claus sticking his tongue out, Jeff Goldblum in his signature role as The Fly, Chucky the Clown, and possibly a panoramic view of the Battle of Balaclava from the Crimean War in 1854.

2. We are taking care of our older son's dog, Chester, until Sunday evening. Chester arrived last night from his home an hour away so that the humans in his family could get an early start today on a quick trip to North Carolina to see this weekend's football game at Duke University and bring their son back home with them for the Thanksgiving holiday. Chester is a mix of Labrador and Dachshund and is a rich chocolate brown color. Here he is resting on our leather couch because he is plumb tuckered out from all the excitement.


That's enough for now. I'm plumb tuckered out too even though I haven't done very much at all when compared to this lady.

Chester sends doggy regards to Rosie-Roo.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Boo-boos in media, example #17,643

Somebody went to a lot of trouble creating this poster and putting it up on Facebook on the anniversary of last year's presidential election, but the numbers are just plain wrong:


Actually, the 2016 electoral college vote in the U.S. presidential election was:

Donald Trump 304
Hillary Clinton 227 (not 277)
Others 4

Others? You betcha. Keep reading.

As we all should know by now, the U.S. does not elect a president by popular vote. If it did, Hillary Clinton would be president. Instead, each state chooses a slate of electors who meet later in the 50 state capitals as an Electoral College that actually selects a president and vice-president.

In the Electoral College vote last December 19, for the first time since 1808, multiple faithless electors voted against their pledged qualified presidential candidate. Five Democrats rebelled in Washington and Hawaii, while two Republicans rebelled in Texas. Two Democratic electors, one in Minnesota and one in Colorado, were replaced after voting for Bernie Sanders and John Kasich, respectively. Electors in Maine conducted a second vote after one of its members voted for Sanders; the elector then voted for Clinton. Likewise, for the first time since 1896, multiple faithless electors voted against the pledged qualified vice presidential candidate.

One Clinton elector in Colorado attempted to vote for John Kasich. The single vote was ruled invalid by Colorado state law, the elector was dismissed, and an alternative elector was sworn in who voted for Clinton.

One Clinton elector in Minnesota voted for Bernie Sanders as President and Tulsi Gabbard as vice president; his votes were discarded and he was replaced by an alternate who voted for Clinton.

One Clinton elector in Maine voted for Bernie Sanders; this vote was invalidated as "improper" and the elector subsequently voted for Clinton.

Four Clinton electors in Washington did not vote for Clinton (three votes went to Colin Powell, and one to Faith Spotted Eagle).

One Trump elector in Georgia resigned before the vote rather than vote for Trump and was replaced by an alternate.

Two Trump electors in Texas did not vote for Trump (one vote went to John Kasich, one to Ron Paul); one elector did not vote for Pence and instead voted for Carly Fiorina for Vice-President; a third resigned before the vote rather than vote for Trump and was replaced by an alternate.

One Clinton elector in Hawaii voted for Bernie Sanders.

Of the faithless votes, Colin Powell and Elizabeth Warren were the only two to receive more than one; Powell received three electoral votes for President and Warren received two for Vice President. Receiving one valid electoral vote each were Sanders, John Kasich, Ron Paul and Faith Spotted Eagle for President, and Carly Fiorina, Susan Collins, Winona LaDuke and Maria Cantwell for Vice President. Sanders is the first Jewish American to receive an electoral vote for President. LaDuke is the first Green Party member to receive an electoral vote, and Paul is the third member of the Libertarian Party to do so, following the party's presidential and vice-presidential nominees each getting one vote in 1972. It is the first election with faithless electors from more than one political party. The seven people to receive electoral votes for president were the most in a single election since 1796, and more than any other election since the enactment of the Twelfth Amendment in 1804.

And now, as radio newscaster Paul Harvey used to say, you know the rest of the story.

Yours for accuracy in media,
rhymeswithplague


Thursday, November 9, 2017

I spent Saturday afternoon with a few thousand of my closest friends

...at a college football game over in Alabama. Here are some of the highlights:










For those who were wondering, our team soundly defeated the other team. The final score was 59 to 23.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

The choice is up to you

In the next few minutes would you rather explore such interesting topics as:

1. Novaya Zemlya effect

2. Euler's number

3. Lemniscate of Bernoulli

4. Occam's (or Ockham's) razor

OR

Look at my beautiful granddaughter during her school's homecoming activities:











I thought so.

Here's one last photo that shows her with her dad (our oldest son), her mom (a beauty in her own right), and her big brother (who came home all the way from his university in North Carolina just to surprise her).


Thursday, October 26, 2017

Here's what I was talking about when I was talking about...

"...the brilliant reds, the dazzling yellows,
The shocking oranges of autumn, the mountains ablaze
Against a clear blue sky."

Have a peek at autumn in north Georgia!

Monday, October 23, 2017

'Round and 'round she goes, and where she stops nobody knows

[Editor's note. Being as how (I know, Americans talk funny, or perhaps that should be funnily) it's October once again -- in many ways one of my two favorite months of the year, the other being April -- I decided to reach back in the old grab-bag and pull out a post I have put up twice before, first in 2010 and again in 2013. --RWP]


Barry Manilow has never been my favorite singer, but there’s something about this particular clip that reaches way down inside me and turns me inside out.

When October Goes (4:21)

I get the almost-a-cliché metaphor about a person’s lifespan (“Oh, it’s a long, long time from May to December, and the days grow short when you reach September” and so forth), and the leaves have turned red and gold and many of them have already fallen, and flocks of geese are in the air making their way south, and my mother died in the month of October in 1957, so this time of year always makes me a bit melancholy, but still...Barry Manilow?

There’s a little quiver in his voice -- and, yes, it may even be fabricated for effect -- and he’s a little “pitchy” (translation: out of tune) in places, but when he sings this song he somehow seems on the verge of losing his composure altogether. Maybe that’s what I’m responding to viscerally, I don’t know, the fact that we’re all in this thing together and we’re all putting on some sort of act and we’re all always dangerously close to losing control and letting everybody see how we really feel, and we certainly wouldn’t want to let that happen. Would we?

But still...

Barry Manilow?

(end of repeated post)

This time, though, I thought I would do something different and end with an original poem of mine that first appeared in my Billy Ray Barnwell Here blog because, well, it is October.


October 25, 2004

Our friend Carolyn came over for lunch
And as we finished at the table
Someone said, “Let’s go for a ride!”
So into the car we piled,
Like children giddy with anticipation,
Not knowing where we were headed
But eager to be having an adventure;
And someone said, “Where shall we go?”
And we said, “We don’t know!”
And someone else said, “Name a direction!”
And because the fall thus far at home
Had been drab and disappointing,
We headed north toward the mountains, laughing.

Five hours later we returned,
Tired but invigorated,
Having been to Helen and Unicoi Gap
And Hiawassee and Lake Chatuge,
Making all of the hairpin turns
And ascending, always ascending, until
We crested and began to descend
Through another set of hairpin turns,
And all the while we oohed and ahhed
And said how glad we were that we had come,
Drinking in the brilliant reds, the dazzling yellows,
The shocking oranges of autumn, the mountains ablaze
Against a clear blue sky.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Figures never lie, but liars often figure

Here are some interesting figures that Ted Nugent, the musician who is a well-known advocate of gun ownership rights, posted on Facebook:

There are 30,000 gun-related deaths per year by firearms in the U.S., and this number is not disputed. The U.S. population was 324,059,091 as of Wednesday, June 22, 2016. Do the math: 0.000000925% of the population dies from gun-related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:

• 65% of those deaths are by suicide, which would never be prevented by gun laws
• 15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified
• 17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug-related, or mentally ill persons - gun violence
• 3% are accidental discharge deaths

So technically, "gun violence" is not 30,000 annually but drops to 5,100. Still too many? Well, first, how are those deaths spread across the nation?

• 480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago
• 344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore
• 333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit
• 119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)

So basically, 25% of all U.S. gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause.

This basically leaves 3,825 for the entire rest of the nation, or about 75 deaths per state. That is an average because some States have much higher rates than others. For example, California had 1,169 and Alabama had 1.

Now, who has the strictest gun laws by far? California, of course, but understand, it is not guns causing this. It is a crime rate spawned by the number of criminal persons residing in those cities and states. So if all cities and states are not created equally, then there must be something other than the tool causing the gun deaths.

Are 5,100 deaths per year horrific? How about in comparison to other deaths? All death is sad and especially so when it is in the commission of a crime but that is the nature of crime. Robbery, death, rape, assault are all done by criminals, and thinking that criminals will obey laws is ludicrous. That's why they are criminals.

But what about other deaths in the U.S. each year?

• 40,000+ die from a drug overdose
• 36,000 people die per year from the flu, far exceeding the criminal gun deaths
• 34,000 people die per year in traffic fatalities (exceeding gun deaths even if you include suicide)

Now it gets good.

200,000+ people die each year (and growing) from preventable medical errors. You are safer in Chicago than when you are in a hospital.

710,000 people die per year from heart disease. It's time to stop the double cheeseburgers! What is the point? If the anti-gun movement focused their attention on heart disease, even a 10% decrease in cardiac deaths would save twice the number of lives annually of all gun-related deaths (including suicide, law enforcement, etc.). A 10% reduction in medical errors would be 66% of the total gun deaths or 4 times the number of criminal homicides.

So you have to ask yourself, in the grand scheme of things, why the focus on guns? It's pretty simple: Taking away guns gives control to governments.

The founders of this nation knew that regardless of the form of government, those in power may become corrupt and seek to rule as the British did by trying to disarm the populace of the colonies. It is not difficult to understand that a disarmed populace is a controlled populace.

Thus, the second amendment was proudly and boldly included in the U.S. Constitution. It must be preserved at all costs.

The next time someone tries to tell you that gun control is about saving lives, look at these facts and remember these words from Noah Webster: "Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed, as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States. A military force at the command of Congress can execute no laws, but such as the people perceive to be just and constitutional, for they will possess the power."

Remember, when it comes to "gun control," the important word is "control," not "gun."

[Here endeth the reading of the Facebook post. Yup, you weren't reading me, you were reading Ted Nugent.]

The most unbelievable figure in that piece -- my jaw almost hit the floor -- is "Alabama had 1." If that is not a downright lie, it is a whopper of a typographical error.

I did a little digging on my own. You might be interested in seeing what another group says about gun deaths in Alabama.

Here's another one.

Perhaps we are comparing apples and oranges. Then again, perhaps not.